Urban RENEWal

Middlesex Water works underground to update its water distribution infrastructure, reduce leakage and improve customer service.
Urban RENEWal
A section of 6-inch cast iron pipe, circa 1900, being replaced in South Amboy, N.J.

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In the nationwide campaign to improve municipal infrastructure, the Middlesex Water Company is pulling its weight. Just last September, the company wrapped up the latest project in a 20-year program to rehabilitate water mains, service lines and hydrants throughout areas of New Jersey where it provides water services.

In South Amboy, the company spent some $4 million to clean and line 11,900 linear feet of 6- to 8-inch water main, enlarge another 9,000 feet of main from 4 to 8 inches, and replace 31 hydrant assemblies and 475 water service lines.

The project, called RENEW, is meant to bring aging water lines up to modern standards and ensure service for the full lifetime of the pipe, according to Richard M. Risoldi, vice president and chief operating officer. The company, which owns and operates water utility and wastewater systems in New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania, upgraded a portion of South Amboy’s water lines in 2011. The recent work is a continuation of a planned upgrade to the company’s 730-mile water distribution system.

“Rehabilitation of mains, rather than more costly replacement, is often the most viable solution, helping to restore the original useful life of older pipe while maintaining operating costs,” says Risoldi. “The RENEW program translates into less lost water through leaks, and enhanced water quality and pressures for our customers.” Funding for the project has come from the New Jersey State Revolving Loan Fund.

Well Connected

Headquartered in Iselin, N.J., publicly traded Middlesex Water was incorporated in 1897. Its workforce numbers more than 270. In Middlesex County, the company serves more than 60,000 retail customers, including about 2,200 in South Amboy. Raw water for about 75 percent of the service area is drawn from the Delaware and Raritan Canal. It is treated with conventional disinfection, coagulation, filtration and post-chlorination at the 55 mgd Carl. J. Olsen Surface Water Treatment Facility, named for the company’s fourth president.

The rest of the area is served from four wellfields containing 31 wells in the northern part of the service territory. Four small treatment plants disinfect the groundwater before distribution. The largest plant uses air stripping to remove volatile organic compounds. The company purchases 3 mgd from a neighboring utility.

The Middlesex County operation includes 24 million gallons of storage. Seven million gallons flow by gravity from an elevated storage tank, and the remainder is pumped from above-ground storage facilities into the distribution system. The system is managed through a state-of-the-art enterprise resource planning (ERP) system (Oracle) connected to a geographic information system (Esri) and a Water GEMS hydraulic model (Bentley). The ERP system includes mobile workforce management.

This technology “connects all the dots,” according to Risoldi: “Our mobile workforce management system is connected via our ERP system to customer service. As our staff is made aware of a problem, an electronic activity form is filled out and sent wirelessly to our field people, who investigate the issue and make the necessary repairs. The information on the repairs is sent back to customer service and made part of the customer record.

“Dispatchers watch the mobile application in real time. They can see the trucks moving and view all of the outstanding work routed to our mobile personnel. It has improved our response time and personal productivity. It’s very efficient.” The SCADA system uses Wonderware (Invensys) as the operator interface software.

The Middlesex Water team performs all routine maintenance on valves, small mains and hydrants. Other work, including annual leak surveys in specific sections of the system, has traditionally been contracted out. However, the company is now implementing its own leak detection system.

South Amboy Renewal

The RENEW project in South Amboy included water mains in a specific area targeted through analysis of water quality and load and pressure data, dating back several years. To clean and line the old 6- and 8-inch mains, the lines were first scraped with an abrasive rotary tool and then flushed. “These were old unlined vintage pipes consisting of bare iron,” says Brian Carr, senior project engineer. “Water causes oxidation and mineral deposit that restricts the inside diameter, by up to half in some cases.”

The aim was to remove the mineral deposits, restore the original diameter, and then trowel a 1/16-inch coating of cement on the inside walls, so that the iron would no longer come in contact with the water. “We worked with 600-foot sections,” Carr says. “We disconnect the section and supply water temporarily to the customer through a bypass pipe that lies on the ground and is disinfected and properly marked for safety reasons.”

The customers are on the bypass system for an average of three weeks. They have water continuously except for the few minutes it takes to connect and disconnect the bypass piping. Temporary hydrants are installed to maintain fire protection. The company’s cleaning and lining contractor took video images of the piping before and after the repairs. Company officials inspected and approved the work. The oxidized material removed from the sections was collected and landfilled.

Improving Service

In other parts of the South Amboy system, 4-inch pipe was replaced with 8-inch pipe, laid in an open trench next to the old lines. The new pipe is cement-lined ductile iron. Concurrent with main cleaning and enlargement, the RENEW project renewed service lines to some 475 customers and replaced 31 hydrants.

“The old service lines were galvanized for the most part, with some plastic, and were in bad shape,” says Carr. The new lines are all copper. The work required service technicians to enter homes to pull meters and clean the service lines. That took a strong public education effort on the front end.

“People are concerned about a project that is a bit disruptive like this,” says Carr. “We did a lot of public education before the project started, meeting with the town council and meeting with the people who were affected. We issued press releases, sent letters, posted information to our website and over social media, and even created a short video to educate customers about the project, the process and how it ultimately would benefit them.”

The biggest issue was getting the town and customers comfortable with the project — to see that short-term inconvenience translated to long-term value. “You’re dealing with people who are not used to this,” Carr says. While the latest work wrapped up in November, Middlesex Water plans to resume the RENEW program next spring. “We’ve done about 85 miles of cleaning and lining to date and have 125 miles left to do,” says Carr.

Life Extension

And while that will help restore the useful life of the piping serving the citizens of this Central Jersey area, it’s only the beginning, as far as Middlesex Water is concerned. “We’re restoring the mains so they can carry water, but these pipes are aging,” says Risoldi. “We’re seriously thinking about the use of materials that will not just bring back the normal life span of these lines but will actually extend their life.”

The company is looking at cured-in-place pipe (CIPP) lining as one way to accomplish that. “We’re experimenting now, looking at costs. If they’re reasonable, we’re looking to do that next,” Risoldi says.

Larger-diameter mains — 30 inches and above — are also getting attention: “We’re developing a larger asset condition assessment, determining the condition of our larger mains and determining which technology we’re going to use. These are older mains and concrete pipes. They’re known to fail. We want to be proactive in their repair.”

More Information

Bentley Systems - 800/727-6555 - www.bentley.com

Esri - 800/447-9778 - www.esri.com

Invensys Operations Management - 949/727-3200 - www.iom.invensys.com

Oracle - 800/392-2999 - www.oracle.com


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